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Cap-and-Trade Interests Try to Break Through Health Care Clutter

With health care town halls continuing to dominate the August recess, energy and environmental interest groups are making an aggressive lobbying push to bring the climate change debate to the fore.

The American Petroleum Institute, along with several other trade groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers, are launching a series of 19 “Energy Citizen” rallies Tuesday.

The first, taking place in Houston, will feature Houston Astros CEO Drayton McLane as the keynote speaker, according to API spokeswoman Cathy Landry.

“This is about climate in the sense that all these groups believe the Waxman-Markey bill will raise energy costs and the loss of jobs,” Landry said. “All the rallies are about getting like-minded individuals together and letting them know they aren’t alone.”

The API is hardly on its own in voicing opposition to the House-passed “cap and trade” legislation.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which also opposed the climate change bill, is ramping up its efforts as well.

The ACCCE launched a $1 million, two-week national ad buy Friday. The ad campaign, called “Real People, Real Stories,” will largely air on cable networks.

Still, ACCCE Senior Vice President of Communications Joe Lucas acknowledges that grabbing the public’s attention is difficult while the health care debate is front and center at town halls across the country.

“Health care certainly has taken all the air out of the room,” Lucas said. “We’re mindful that this is an issue that is going to be ongoing for a long time. We’re not going to force the issue.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has set a Sept. 28 deadline for Senate committees to report out a bill.

ACCCE has decided not to push members of its “citizen army” to attend town halls. Instead, ACCCE is calling on its grass-roots operatives to attend local events like parades in order to keep the climate change debate from fading into the background.

Environmental groups are also getting in on the action.

The Sierra Club is also trying to make the connection between the environment and health care concerns — pushing clean energy jobs at health-care-focused town halls —according to David Willett, the group’s spokesman.

“Clean energy solutions revitalize manufacturing, revitalize American jobs and lower consumer costs for energy while also protecting the planet,” Willett said.

The Sierra Club is also working to counteract lobbying and AstroTurf firms.

“We’re very conscious of getting out the people to counteract those efforts of the folks who are paying people to show up,” Willett said.

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